Studies have shown that having hobbies can boost your mental health. They can reduce stress, promote relaxation, and even benefit your physical well-being depending on the hobby you choose.
However, some hobbies can take things one step further, offering deeply therapeutic benefits. Hobbies like horseback riding and metal detecting, for example, are great forms of self-therapy that can promote multiple mental health benefits and help you deal with daily issues like stress and anxiety.
While therapeutic hobbies aren’t necessarily replacements for professional mental health help, they can make it easier to manage symptoms of mental health issues — or simply to maintain your emotional well-being. Let’s take a look at a few prominent therapeutic hobbies that will boost your mental health and give you something to look forward to.
Horseback riding has such a positive impact on mental health that there are equine therapy programs throughout the country designed to help people with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more. Getting on the back of a horse can improve your overall perspective on life and benefit both your physical and mental health. Some of the greatest benefits of being around horses include:
- Reduced blood pressure;
- Increased relaxation;
- Improved decision-making skills;
- Better cardiovascular health.
You can also practice mindfulness when horseback riding. It’s a technique that allows you to stay focused on the present and your surroundings rather than letting thoughts and fears about the past or future consume you.
Whether you’re a horse lover or you’re looking for a hobby that’s out of your comfort zone, horseback riding is one of the most relaxing ways to improve your emotional and mental health. Consider reaching out to an equine therapy service near you. Or, if you’d rather not participate in a formal equine therapy session, contact a local stable or horseback riding company. Many provide guides that will help you get started or even take you on a trail ride until you’re comfortable doing it on your own.
Metal detecting is an exciting hobby for adults and kids alike. Most people would revel at the opportunity to find a piece of buried treasure, even if it’s something simple like an old coin or a piece of jewelry.
However, metal detecting is more than just fun and exciting. It can be extremely therapeutic and relaxing. It’s been used as a tool for PTSD recovery, to promote stress reduction, and to improve physical well-being.
Metal detecting allows you to spend more relaxing time in nature, which is a natural healer and mental health booster. Plus, if you choose to do your metal detecting at the beach or other quintessentially relaxing areas, you can find even more peace — making it easier to unwind and let go of any excess stress or anxiety you’ve been holding onto. You can choose to metal hunt on your own or with a loved one. If you’re struggling with loneliness and you feel like it’s affecting your mental health, this is a great hobby to help you connect with others and foster a sense of community.
There are countless mental health benefits associated with art, including:
- Reduced stress;
- Improved self-esteem;
- Boosted creativity;
- Positive memories.
You don’t need to be overly artistic to take advantage of these benefits. Find a way to express yourself through art that makes you happy and calm. That could include painting, photography, sculpting, or even doodling.
Self-expression is important for everyone, so don’t worry so much about making something that looks perfect. Instead, focus on the relaxation you’re experiencing through your artwork, and create something that lets your emotions out. Consider taking an art class if you want to hone in on your craft or meet other like-minded individuals. If you just want to express yourself freely, head down to your local art supply store and pick up whatever speaks to you to get started.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, home gardens became extremely popular. We might be heading into a post-pandemic society, but you can still plant a garden and enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of gardening, including reduced stress and improved heart and lung health.
Gardening gives you the opportunity to create something from nothing. You’ll be able to nurture whatever you grow, giving you a sense of purpose and something to look forward to. It can improve your confidence and self-esteem, and you’ll love watching everything from flowers to vegetables and herbs spring to life around you. It’s an incredibly fulfilling hobby and one that can boost your mental health every season.
You don’t necessarily have to have a green thumb to get started. Choose native plants or species that don’t require a lot of fussing if you’re worried about how to care for them each day. Even researching plants and produce can quickly become an important part of your hobby, and you’ll love learning and “growing” just as much as whatever you plant.
There are so many other therapeutic hobbies to consider, but give these a try if you want to improve your mental well-being. Stick with what works for you, manage your expectations, and enjoy the beauty of relaxation through a hobby you love.